Thursday, April 11, 2013

Marshals Looking for Missing Inmate Who Crashed Plane Near Wheeling in 2004

 Eugene Nicholas Cobbs 

Cocaine dealer behind largest-ever West Virginia bust escapes from prison camp 

 A drug dealer who disappeared in 2004 after crashing his cocaine-filled plane in Wheeling, W.Va., leading to an international federal manhunt, is again on the loose after he walked away from the federal prison camp in Morgantown on Wednesday.

Federal marshals are hunting for Eugene Nicholas Cobbs, 42.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons said he was missing during a 4 p.m. headcount at the minimum-security facility on Wednesday, although the Marshals Service was not notified that he was gone until seven hours later.

Mr. Cobbs was last seen at the prison facility at noon Wednesday.

Alex Neville, supervisor for the Marshals Service in Clarksburg, W.Va., said authorities believe Mr. Cobbs had help in escaping and is no longer in the area.

Mr. Cobbs, sentenced to seven years in federal prison for dealing coke, was transferred to the prison camp in February from a federal penitentiary in New Jersey.

It wasn't immediately clear why he was moved, although federal inmates are often transferred to lower-security facilities for good behavior.

Mr. Neville said he could not comment on why a man who had previously been the subject of a manhunt was allowed to be housed in a prison camp, which has no perimeter security beyond a three-foot fence.

Mr. Cobbs crashed his Piper Aerostar on Dec. 18, 2004, at Wheeling-Ohio County airport, leaving behind 525 pounds of cocaine worth $24 million, the largest haul of coke ever recovered in West Virginia.

He was on the run for four years until the Marshals Service captured him in Mexico in 2008.

Mr. Cobbs, who is originally from Philadelphia and uses several aliases, also triggered a state grand jury investigation of the Pennsylvania driver's license system because he was using a fake state ID.

That case resulted in charges against more than 45 people accused of using stolen or fake identities to get driver's licenses.

In Mr. Cobbs' case, the state grand jury said he used a counterfeit Arkansas birth certificate and Social Security card, along with a fraudulent letter from the Social Security Administration, to acquire a license in the name of Marquis Munroe, who turned out to be a 13-year-old in Philadelphia.

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NTSB Identification: IAD05CA025. 
 The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Saturday, December 18, 2004 in Wheeling, WV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/30/2006
Aircraft: Smith, Ted Aerostar 601P, registration: N60CF
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot attempted a night landing on a taxiway in front of the control tower, which was closed at the time. The airplane overran the end of the taxiway, rolled down an embankment and struck trees. The pilot, whose identity was not confirmed, was believed to have incurred minor injuries. He subsequently paid a passerby to take him to a local hotel, and after a night's rest, he left the area. Ownership of the airplane could not be determined due to a recent sale. Approximately 250 kilos of cocaine were found onboard the airplane. Further investigation was being conducted by federal authorities and local law enforcement.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot misjudged his distance/speed, and his intentional landing on an unsuitable taxiway at night. A factor in the accident was the night light conditions.

Ocean City air show to go on without Blue Angels, Thunderbirds

The Navy's famed Blue Angels aerial demonstration squad has canceled the rest of its 2013 performances, including dates this summer in Ocean City, in San Diego, Navy officials announced earlier this week.

"This is one of many steps the Navy is taking to ensure resources are in place to support forces operating forward now and those training to relieve them," the Navy said in an official statement.

The move was caused by the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, officials said. In March, the Air Force announced it would ground its Thunderbirds jet demonstration team beginning April 1.

That means this year's OC Air Show, scheduled for June 8-9, will not have any military jets soaring above the Atlantic off the coast of Ocean City, but the show will go on.

OC Air Show organizers said the moves were disappointing but ultimately would not hurt the show in terms of entertainment value or attendance.

"We’ll have an all-star, almost all-civilian lineup of aircraft. We’ll put together and bring in the best civilian acts in the country," said Bryan Lilley, president of the OC Air Show, adding that organizers created a similar show two years ago, when they did not fly any jets.

"In 2011, we didn’t have a jet team and it was our second-best year," Lilley said.

However, Lilley said that the military groundings have hurt the industry overall with many air shows facing cancellation. But for Ocean City, even that may offer a silver lining.

"There’s no air show left [in the region], so you have to go to Ocean City," Lilley explained. "Andrews is gone, Dover is gone, the Blues aren’t flying in Annapolis. So there aren’t any air shows left except for Ocean City."

In addition to the OC Air Show, Lilley's company also produces the Lauderdale Air Show later this month in South Florida. He said that show has been successful using only civilian aircraft for the past three years and that he would seek a similar lineup for Ocean City.

Still, Lilley said he understands that some OC Air Show fans may be disappointed,

"There’s that patriotic salute to the military and they want to show their support," he said. "It’s disappointing, but we’re going to do the best show possible."

Lilley also notes that because of its location, Ocean City still offers the best draw.

"When you look at a waterfront airshow, it’s like launching fireworks over the ocean, it makes one of the best reasons to go to the beach for a weekend."


2014 air show at Pease in doubt due to budget cuts

PORTSMOUTH — The 2014 Service Credit Union Boston-Portsmouth Air Show at Pease could be in jeopardy in light of recent military cuts due to sequestration, organizers said this week.

The original plan, proposed by the Daniel Webster Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Brain Injury Foundation of New Hampshire, called for the air show to take place at Pease International Tradeport in 2014, 2016 and 2018.

Whether the 2014 show will take place is now up in the air, however, after U.S. military officials announced all remaining air shows in 2013 involving military demonstration teams have been canceled. This includes the Navy’s Blue Angels, the Air Force’s Thunderbirds and the Army’s parachute team, the Golden Knights.

Michael Kaufman, executive director and chief executive officer of the Daniel Webster Council, said Thursday that the cancellation of the 33 remaining air shows in 2013 are a prime example of the effects of the federal across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester.

Kaufman said while it is not yet known what will happen next year, he plans to have in-depth discussions with stakeholders involved in the local air show.

“It was fortuitous that we decided not to have a show this year,” Kaufman said. Had the show been planned for this year, Kaufman said organizers would already have been well under way in the planning effort by now.

In addition, the impact sequestration will have on the N.H. Air National Guard could also play a role in the planning effort, he said.

In June 2012, approximately 65,000 people filled the tarmac at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease for a two-day event featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, as well as other notable acts and performers. The air show earned $140,292 for both the Daniel Webster Council and the Brain Injury Foundation. It also generated $14,000 for Portsmouth High School and money for several other Seacoast charities.

The 2011 air show featured the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and drew nearly 50,000 people to Pease, and the 2010 show featured the Blue Angels drew more than 70,000 spectators. The 2010 event was the first air show at Pease in about 20 years.

Airport manager Bill Hopper said he is optimistic that the 2014 air show will go on as planned.

“2014 is a long ways away,” he said. “I’m hoping they’ll have this all taken care of by then.”


Shaw community remembers Capt. Steel

Photo Provided
U.S. Air Force Capt. James Steel, 77th Fighter Squadron pilot, stands in front of a F-16 Fighting Falcon in Afghanistan after a combat mission. Capt. Steel was killed April 3, 2013, after his aircraft crashed returning to base from a close air support mission.

BY CAPT. ANN BLODZINSKI 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

It was what they wore underneath their uniforms this week that told a story of commitment, friendship and respect.

Col. Shaun McGrath, 20th Operations Group commander, on Monday allowed members of the operations group to wear 77th Fighter Squadron "Gamblers" red and black T-shirts under their duty uniforms to honor pilot Capt. James Steel, who died April 3 when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed in Afghanistan. He is the first aviator lost in combat from the 20th Fighter Wing since 1945 during World War II in England.

The 77th, known as the Gamblers, has been deployed since the fall of 2012. In total, Steel flew 85 combat missions, and his efforts in combat saved American and coalition service members' lives, according to Lt. Col. Johnny Vargas, 77th Fighter Squadron commander.

"He flew with great passion and as sad as his loss is, know that Mano (Steel's call sign) died doing what he loved to do. He died serving his country, protecting his fellow service members and accomplishing our nation's objectives. He died a fighter pilot. A hero."

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Vulnerabilities in aircraft systems allow remote airplane hijacking, researcher says

IDG News Service - The lack of security in communication technologies used in the aviation industry makes it possible to remotely exploit vulnerabilities in critical on-board systems and attack aircraft in flight, according to research presented Wednesday at the Hack in the Box security conference in Amsterdam.

The presentation, by Hugo Teso, a security consultant at consultancy firm N.runs in Germany, who has also had a commercial pilot license for the past 12 years, was the result of the researcher's three-yearlong research into the security of avionics.

Teso showed how the absence of security features in ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast), a technology used for aircraft tracking, and ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System), a datalink system used to transmit messages between aircraft and ground stations via radio or satellite, can be abused to exploit vulnerabilities in flight management systems.

He did not experiment on real airplanes, which would be both dangerous and illegal, according to his own account. Instead Teso acquired aircraft hardware and software from different places, including from vendors offering simulation tools that use actual aircraft code and from eBay, where he found a flight management system (FMS) manufactured by Honeywell and a Teledyne ACARS aircraft management unit.

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Propellers stolen from Portland-Troutdale Airport (KTTD), Oregon


TROUTDALE, Ore. – Two airplane propellers were stolen from the Troutdale airport Tuesday and a Good Samaritan helped police quickly track it down. 

 The Good Samaritan saw a propeller in the back of a truck and thought it seemed odd. So he called 911, not even knowing about the theft several miles away.

Investigators pulled over that truck a short time later and found two propellers inside. Their owner was called to the scene to identify them, and police returned the propellers to him.

Three suspects, 31-year-old Donald Paul Olson (L), 44-year-old Michael John Anderson (C) and 30-year-old Stefanie Nicole Anderson (R), were jailed on theft charges.

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Three people ended up behind bars accused of stealing airplane propellers on Tuesday. 

Portland police said it started at around 7:15 a.m. when they got a call near the Space Age Fuel at Southeast Foster and Jenne Road.

The caller reported seeing some people loading a propeller into a pickup truck and said it seemed strange.

Portland officers then learned that Troutdale police had just taken a report of a stolen propeller taken from the Holiday Inn Express in Troutdale.

Portland officers said they found a truck at Southeast Foster and Jenne.

They took three people into custody and recovered two airplane propellers.

Portland officers said they were able to return the propellers to their owner.

Officers identified the  three people arrested as Donald Olson, 31, Michael Anderson, 44, and Stefanie Anderson, 30.

All three were expected in court to face theft-related charges on Wednesday.

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Hearing told of 'culture' of ignoring orders: Bell UH-1H Iroquois, NZ3806 - Accident occurred April 25, 2010 - Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington - New Zealand

LATEST: A retired squadron leader giving evidence at a hearing of an officer charged over the fatal Anzac Day Iroquois crash that killed three men says there was a 'culture' of ignoring some flight orders.
A summary proceedings hearing for Flight Lieutenant Daniel John Pezaro, 30, is being held at the Ohakea Air Force Base today in front of disciplinary officer Wing Commander Shaun Sexton.

Pezaro is charged with negligently failing to perform a duty, after failing to abort the mission of the formation when weather conditions deteriorated so much that visibility was lost.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Flight Lieutenant Hayden Madsen, 33, Flying Officer Dan Gregory, 28, and Corporal Ben Carson, 25, were killed when their 3 Squadron Iroquois helicopter crashed in thick cloud at Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington, about 6am on April 25, 2010.

A fourth crew member, Sergeant Stevin Creeggan, survived with serious injuries.

Pezaro was the formation leader of the three Iroquois flying to Wellington from Ohakea for a ceremonial fly-past.


In cross examination this afternoon, Retired Squadron Leader Rob Stockley admitted there was a "culture" of ignoring Minimum Separation Distance (MSD) orders that was supported by unit commanders.

When cross examined by Defence Squadron Leader Ron Thacker, he said there were contradictory orders in place that suggested MSD levels were absolute, and another order which allowed for weather variances.

Earlier today, in an edited version of an interview with Pezaro, he admitted his focus was on the flyover itself, and less on the transit from Ohakea to Wellington.

The hearing heard a recording of a phone call where he admitted that poor weather conditions had forced him to fly between 200-250ft lower than the recommended Minimum Separation Distance (MSD) of 600ft, before the crash happened.

Stockley gave evidence this morning that Pezaro had contacted him the day before the flight and told him that bad weather was forecast.

Stockley assured Pezaro that if he decided to abort the flyover, Stockley would back him up and no pressure was placed on him to carry through.

When asked if he would have thought Pezaro should have aborted the flight altogether Stockley said the expectation was pilots would "have a look" and they could have set down in Paraparaumu if they needed to.

If they were unlikely to be able to make their first task - a flyover of the cenotaph in Wellington at 6.15am - there were still three further flyovers they potentially could have made later in the morning, he said.

Before the crash, Stockley said it was accepted practice that bad weather was considered an appropriate reason to break MSD, provided there was an escape route or clear route to turn back.

After the crash, Stockley's views were radically changed, and he now believed that they should only be broken if the pilot had no other option, or were forced.

Choosing to break MSD was not forced, he said.

Seven witnesses were expected to be called by prosecution, and it was hoped they will be finished giving evidence by the end of the day.


Two witnesses have been called by prosecutor squadron leader Anthony Budd, and an edited video interview featuring Pezaro has been shown.

In the video Pezaro said there were three sets of orders given. He described them as ''a shambles''.

Evidence also heard at the hearing mentioned that the temporary orders given were not written in mandatory language.

In an edited version of an interview with Pezaro, he admitted his focus was on the flyover itself, and less on the transit from Ohakea to Wellington.

The offence Pezaro is facing has a maximum sentence of two years' jail under the Armed Forces Discipline Act.

A court of inquiry report into the crash was published in December 2011, and found the flight should have been aborted when the squadron met cloud below 600 feet near Paraparaumu.

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Boeing issues formal layoff warning to 939 machinists working in Everett, Washington

The Boeing Co. issued formal layoff warning notices Wednesday to 939 machinists working on its 787 and 747 assembly lines and modification centers at Everett.

That notice tells them they could be laid off by June 7.

The company two weeks ago told union representatives of the impending cutbacks. Those cutbacks are happening because the assembly process on the two new planes is stabilizing and because modification work necessary to bring some of the early production versions of those two new planes up to certification standards is declining.

“This is the same layoff that was publicized earlier,” said Boeing spokesman Doug Alder. “The number is up from 800 to 939 because the law requires us to notify anyone who might be considered for layoff,” he said.

The company expects the final number laid off will likely be about 800. Other workers losing their present jobs, he said, may transfer to other jobs within the company.

Boeing has said it expects its Puget Sound workforce will decline by 2,000 to 2,300 workers this year. The company employs 86,000 workers in the Puget Sound area.

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Boeing to withdraw permits for planned Everett office building

Boeing is planning to withdraw a permit application to build a 650,000-square-foot office building in a forested area a half mile northwest of its current Everett headquarters building, city officials say.

“The most recent word is they’re going to withdraw the application; we haven’t seen anything formal as of yet,” said Gerry Ervine, Everett land use manager. “We were going through the environmental review process.”

Dubbed the North Office Tower, the building would have replaced several smaller buildings immediately north of the large Everett aircraft assembly building, Ervine said, based on what Boeing officials told him. The flat-topped structures date from when the plant was originally opened in the late ‘60s, said Ervine.

“I think the intention was to provide the same square footage, in one building in one location," Ervine said.

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At Sun 'n Fun, rides in vintage Vietnam-era helicopters: Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (KLAL), Florida

LAKELAND (FOX 13) -  You can take a step back in history at Sun 'n Fun, now going on at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. It's one you may not be able to take for much longer.

Retired Vietnam pilots are giving rides in helicopters that actually flew during the war.

The pilots are members of the Heritage Army Heritage Aviation Foundation. They travel around the country to air shows to exhibit the vintage Vietnam choppers, and educate people about the war. But perhaps the most thrilling thing they offer is for members of the general public to actually fly with them.

"We're all getting old, so we're not going to do this much longer, you know," Retire pilot Rusty Pickus told FOX 13 on Wednesday.

A ride costs $60 for eight minutes. They will be available Thursday and Friday. Sun 'n Fun runs until Sunday.

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